Title: The Art of Deception
Beta: wiredwolf on livejournal
Fandom: GI Joe (movie!verse)
Ana walked along silently next to Duke. He was taking her to the holding cells deep within The Pit to see her brother and James. It was a long time coming, really… and it felt like it had been ages since the Joe's had finally found the control to completely turn off the nanomites racing through her body. It felt good to have all of her memories intact once again… not to mention her freedom.
"Once they can get you in the database," Duke finally said as they approached a door. "They'll give you your own code." He gave her an awkward smile. "That way it'll be hard for anyone to pretend they're you to break in. Same goes for the scan card."
She hummed in acknowledgement and watched as Duke punched in his code to unlock the door to the cells corridor. They walked down the long, dimly lit passage, the only sound was that of their boot clad feet against the steel floors. When they reached another door, Duke pulled a lanyard from his pocket with a scan card on it. He held the front of the card against a black panel and the door slid open. The new corridor was just as cold and unwelcoming as the last, but she supposed that was the point.
It had taken her a better part of a year, once she had been cleared, to convince Hawk that she would be a good Joe. So, in all it had been nearly five years since she had seen James and what had become of her brother. And Duke was taking her to see them.
"So there's no retinal scanning or anything?" Ana asked. Duke snorted slightly. "What? It's a valid question."
"This is at the bottom of The Pit," Duke supplied. "No one is getting out of this area without going up."
They finally came to a stop outside of a large door. Duke punched in his code again and the doors slid open. "Here we are," Duke said. "Cells seven and nine." He strode to the glass window, a small console display flickered to life. Duke used the console to bring forward two of the cells. She effectively hid her horror at the sight of the two metal cylinders as they floated closer. "Who do you want to see first? Your brother or the guy that was forcing you to love him?"
Ana glanced at Duke, her lips pressed into a tight line. "My brother, of course." She nodded towards the cylinders. "How do they eat and get sunlight?"
"Not completely sure, but Hawk mentioned a chute that opens so their food can be placed inside. And they have artificial sunlight during the daylight hours," Duke replied, bringing cell nine to the forefront.
When the metal cylinder opened, she honestly didn't know which was worse… the metal or the cage made of energy beams. Rex didn't have anywhere to sit or anywhere to walk, that much was obvious. Even if he wasn't her brother, she felt that it would have been a bit more prudent to at least give him enough space to move around in.
Rex was sitting idly in the middle of his cell, legs folded beneath him in what looked like a meditative state. She saw his eyes open when the cell was finally still. He tilted his head as he peered at her. "And to what do I owe this pleasure?" he hissed.
Ana shuddered slightly. "I wanted to see you."
"How very sentimental of you," Rex replied.
"I also wanted to know one thing, Rex… Why did you do it?" she asked. "Why did you put me under your control?"
Rex's eyes glimmered with amusement. "You know very well why I did it. It is pointless to pretend otherwise."
The corner of Ana's mouth twitched. She looked at Duke and softly gave him the okay to return Rex back to his seclusion. Her heart fell as she watched the metal close around her little brother. She sighed and leaned against Duke. "I just can't believe that's my little brother…" she whispered.
Duke rubbed her back soothingly. "It'll be okay Ana… I promise," he said. She gave him a faint smile then looked at the other cell. "Are you sure you want to see him?"
She nodded shakily. "But… can you step outside until after I'm done?"
"Sure thing," Duke said with a half grin. He showed her how to move the cell and how to open the metal part of the cage before leaving her alone. "Just call me if you need help." With a quick wink and a kiss to her lips, he exited and the door slid shut behind him.
Ana rolled her eyes and sighed heavily. She brought James's cell as close as she could without touching the thin pane between them. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, she manipulated the controls to open the metal barrier. She looked up and her mouth dropped in shock as James stared back at her. She moved his cell to a part of the pane unaffected by the controls and stood in front of him.
"What have they done to you?" she whispered, putting her hand against the glass.
He was thinner than she remembered. He still had the blue eyes she could get lost in for hours at a time and they were focused on her. Tears stung her eyes as she took in his silver covered face. A mask, of all things that could have been done to him… "I wish I could say it was them that did this to me," James said, his voice containing very little of the passion and heart she remembered so well.
Rex had done this to him?
James reached up, coming towards her, then drew his hand back before the energy beams could damage him. "It's worth it if it meant your safety," he added softly. "The burns I suffered… all worth it. And the nanomites repaired me."
Ana stepped closer to the glass until she was pressed fully against it, and rested her cheek against the cool surface. She wanted to feel his arms come around her like they so often had before. "I'm not under Rex's control anymore," she whispered. "I remember everything, even the memories he locked away to protect me." She looked up at him, captivated by the haunted, longing look he gave her. His fingers twitched with the desire to touch her. "And my feelings for you are still the same."
"As are mine for you," James whispered, the energy beams giving the tips of his fingers a short jolt as his hand came too far forward. He snatched his hand back and shook it. "And that was worth it too."
Ana felt a tear streak down her face. "Pretty soon… we won't have to pretend anything anymore…" she promised.
She shifted back to the controls and moved James away from the glass. "Ana," he called softly and she looked at him. "I love you."
Her heart skipped a beat and she felt a fresh wave of tears threatening. "I know," she replied shakily, then closed his cell. She gave herself a few moments to recompose herself, wipe away the faint wetness from her eyes, and take care of the smudge from where she'd had her cheek against the glass. With one last look over her shoulder to whisper "I love you," she let herself out of the room.
She gave Duke a faint smile. "You alright?" he asked, wiping at the remnant of a tear on her cheek.
She nodded shakily. "I'm fine." She almost wanted to laugh at the irony of the situation. When she needed Duke the most he hadn't been there for her, but now that she didn't need him, he wanted to provide comfort to her. Soon she would have the two people back that cared the most. They wouldn't be in the cells that the Joe's pathetically labelled as humane… But most of all, she could be herself once again.